March 26, 2011

I'm Curious About Your Kitchens

With a kitchen remodel right around the corner, you can well imagine that I'm pouring over kitchen books, magazines, and websites. Even though we have a basic floor plan, there are a million and one little things that need to be figured out. As I've looked at hundreds of kitchen photos, I've noticed things. Improbable things, such as how every one is so organized and clutter free. Of course, I imagine that behind the camera is a large table, loaded with everything they cleared out to make it look so neat! Other things strike me as curious and make me wonder. Wonder enough to find out how your kitchens are set up, and what you think about the current trends. Things like:

Windows. Hardly any of the kitchens in the books and magazines have window treatments. Whatever happened to kitchen curtains? Or even blinds or shades? Does anyone have bare kitchen windows like that? Doesn't that make you feel exposed? What if you want to run into the kitchen in your underwear? Especially at night when you can't see out to know if anybody might be around to see in. Please tell me about your kitchen windows.

Appliance Garages. I admit these look kind of neat and I like the idea of being able to push some commonly used appliances out of the way. But I think it would eventually get annoying to have to do that little door up and down every time I needed one. And come to think of it, why would I want to hide my small appliances anyway? It's not like they're the messiest thing in my kitchen. Does anyone have an appliance garage? How do you like it? Do you bother to push the appliances back in after you use them? Do you keep the door mostly up or mostly down?

Rugs. Now, I really like the look of a few throw rugs in the kitchen. Pretty on the eyes and easy on the feet. But personally I find they are way too hard to keep clean. How many of you have rugs in your kitchens? Do you really truly like them there? Aren't they always full of crumbs, dirt, sand, cat/dog hair, and pizza sauce spills? How do you keep them clean?

Peninsulas. Every peninsula is made with an overhang for stools. Does a peninsula have to accommodate seating? For one, we don't need it, and for two, nobody really likes sitting on stools to eat anyway. And so what if a peninsula can seat five. What kind of arrangement is that for a conversation? It seems like islands can get away with no seating, but it's expected with a peninsula. Does anyone have stools at your island or peninsula? How often do you use them? How often do you eat there? Do they ever get in the way?

Work Triangles. OK. Whats the deal with work triangles. Honestly, how many of you work in a triangle? When I cook it's: sink, fridge, cabinet, pantry, garden, outdoor faucet, sink, countertop, sink, cabinet, stove, shelves, countertop, stove, sink, pantry, dining area, cabinet, fridge, dining area, sink, fridge, countertop, shelves, stove, sink. Where's the triangle in that? Yet every book and article on kitchen design tells us we have to have one.

I did find an article online, and learned that work triangles were devised in the 1950s to test kitchen layouts in government financed housing. The ideal distance was deemed 4 to 7 feet between sink, refrigerator, and stove. The rationale was that this either saves steps, or keeps the cook from constantly having to walk around appliances. Even so this doesn't seem logical because it takes more than a sink, fridge, and stove to prepare a meal. I've noticed that modern kitchen triangles go anywhere from straight lines for one wall kitchens, to triangles with bumped out legs to accommodate huge islands and peninsulas. I've also read enough kitchen forums to know that lots of folks (myself included) think that 48 inches is too far for some set-ups. (Can you say "water from freshly rinsed vegetables dripping all over the floor"?) It's curious that kitchen designers would hang on to this concept. Needless to say, I'm not worrying about triangles in my kitchen.

Please tell me, how does your work triangle work for you? What's your ideal distance between work areas? Are you conscious of your "work flow" and able to organize every step around the most efficient footwork? If you are, I need to know your secret.

Kitchens as Entertainment Centers. Maybe this is a sign of the times, but rarely do I see kitchens treated as a workshops. The rare exceptions are the personal home kitchens of professional chefs. More commonly, book descriptions point out amenities for guests and multiple cooks, and open concept architecture which enables the cook to remain part of the action elsewhere in the house. In addition, they are big on things like a fully stocked cappuccino center and little sinks designed solely for washing celery. Decorator details seem to be the focus. We even found one that touted "the lived in look." Um, hello, we need to make the kitchen look like we actually use it?

My question for you all is, how many of you entertain in your kitchen? I mean, how often do you work up a guest list for making an evening out of a group cook in? Personally, I find it's more trouble to find things for guests to do in the kitchen than to do it myself. Just don't leave before the dishes are done.

The resale factor. OK, moving is a reality and we're considered the mobile society after all. Still, why do I have to design my kitchen based on what somebody else may want in the future? Why can't I make it the way I want? I mean, how many of you absolutely fall in love with those one size fits all, cookie cutter kitchens in homes you're looking to buy? I read that the number one room people want to remodel in their homes is their kitchen. Maybe kitchens designers should take a hint. Or, maybe they already did and generic kitchen design is the way to guarantee job security. Keeping future buyers in mind may be good advice for those whose house is simply an investment, but what about those of us who actually plan to live in our homes? What do you think?

Books, magazines, and websites are fun to look at and great for ideas, but not for whole kitchens. I say this because most of them seem to be geared toward career minded folks rather than homemakers and homesteaders. That's where you all come in. Please tell me, what do you love about your kitchen? What would you change? If you could design your dream kitchen, what would be important to you? The floor is yours.


Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

We remodeled our kitchen in 2007/2008 and it's still not 100% complete! Oh the major stuff is done, but it's the little things that aren't done that drive me nuts! It took FOREVER to find the correct tile to match my granite counters!

I have a photo posted on my side bar of some of my kitchen if you'd like to take a look at it.

We designed our kitchen for me! I'm the cook and this was my baby! Now, I wouldn't go putting in orange cabinets and avocado appliances LOL but make it your own!

I have a triangle, but it wasn't really planned. Sink to the left, Range to the right & fridge behind them. It just so happened that's the only way the design worked! LOL!!

Doyu Shonin said...

Here is a glimpse of our kitchen; it's just open shelves everywhere and two facing counters, one of which is the sink counter with the window right over the sink. No curtain, but too far from the road to have privacy concerns. There's a transition room, very tiny, between the kitchen and the washer room/pantry, and the refrigerator and microwave live in there, along with storage for many items including the mixing bowls, crock pots and such. The freezer lives in the washer room and the canning jars live on shelves across from it. More storage is in the "cold room" which is downstairs past the entryway. So everything is scattered all over; because half the year most of our cooking is done in the dining room, because that's where the wood stove is...

Lynda said...

I have a couple pictures of my kitchen on my blog...and I have to say I have no curtains on my windows (the house sits 8 feet above ground level and we live in the boondocks..I don't have curtains on the bathroom windows either!), I have 3 appliance garages and I love, love, love them. I have a work triangle and 4 sinks...three on one side and a huge canning/stockpot sink on the 20 foot center island...which has the cooktop, a raised counter with 6 stools and then a dropped counter for rolling out pastry AND seating for two (built in bookcase for my cookbooks, too). I have a tile floor, so there are 3 rugs. The kitchen is the center of my home...I have room for the 8 people at the island, 12 people at the table, then a leather sofa and matching chair: the kitchen is used for most of our entertaining. We have French doors that open up to a big deck and connect the kitchen with the outdoors. I know WAY over done...but I love it! I didn't design any of was my husband's baby: he can't boil water...but he sure put together a fantabulous kitchen.

m said...

Our kitchen is small, and there is nothing we can do about it. In 2000 we had an extension built onto our house, to the side and the back. Our solutions were to put a small under-the-counter freezer in the new utility room, along with the washing machine and belfast sink. The old kitchen wall cabinets went in there and house cleaning materials, laundry items, spare glass jars and our juicer. We also had a separate pantry built in to the extension. If I can find/take photos, I'll blog about it.

Tami said...

Our kitchen hasn't been remodeled, it's a simple galley kitchen. I think most kitchens are way overblown. Unless you do tons of entertaining or have a large family, I think simple is best.

I do tend to use the same 4 feet of counter space (right beside my sink) over and over, no matter what I'm cooking. I do overflow onto other counters if needed but if I have a "work triangle" it's very tight, very small area.

I have blinds just because of the summer sun heating up the house. I don't worry about privacy, but do close them at night (streaking!...there are something's you don't need to see.)

Basic appliances, vinyl on the floor, with a rug (never had an issue keeping it clean)

If we did remodel, I'd mostly open up a wall for a "great room feel" and get a gas stove set-up.

I'd put most of my money creating a KILLER pantry ROOM. Toss everything in there.

Theresa said...

Leigh, I know you've seen our kitchen. I like a combo of both open and closed shelves. I wish I had a pantry, I don't have many appliances, but those I do I put in the island cabinet. I like drawers for pots,pans and lids, also in the island. We have simple wood stools that go under the sitting area on the other side of the island. Folks like it to have a cup of Joe and chat. My mother uses them to help chop, we sit there to sort mail, but mostly I like to stand at the counter. A TV in the kitchen is a waste, a radio not so much. I have brought in the laptop on rare occasions when I was too lazy to print a recipe. No window treatments, we're out in the woods, alone, on 25 acres surrounded by 58,000 acres with a grand total of about 300 families spread over a 17 mile square area. The deer don't care what I look like and it's always nice to see if the horses are playing.
I don't know about a triangle but I like handy counter space right by the fridge and the stove and the sink. I don't like carrying hot pans full of boiling water too far to drain, esp. with dogs underfoot, so sink is close to stove. I don't like double sinks, they are always too small. Give me a good deep single sink any day. I do a lot of chopping and prep work and having the butcher block island hold the cook top is something I designed and love, it works just how it should. I like my island a lot. Mostly you need to build for the way you cook but chances are if you work efficiently in the space you have, someone else will too. As to resale, leave room for a dishwasher if you can, select finishes wisely and most importantly keep it clean. I'm not big on clutter, although we have designated clutter zones, where the phone book hangs out, the pens, some paper, junk mail and catalogues and other daily crappola seems to reside. I think though that even though something is useful there is also no reason why it can't be beautiful too. Paint and paper can be to your taste, but do the fixtures in the best quality you can afford.
I don't care a whit about a high end kitchen or a dated one, what I do care about when buying is good quality. It may not be to my taste but will it last until I have the time,energy,resources to redo. Are the cabinets of good enough quality that I will refinish rather than tear out. Those things are important to me. HTH!

Leigh said...

Thank you for all the thoughts and ideas so far!

Mary, thanks for pointing out the photo. I've been trying to match some tile myself, so I know for a fact how frustrating this is! Sounds like your design was a success. Even if your kitchen doesn't have orange cabinets and avocado appliances, LOL

Risa, I love your shelves and hooks for pots and baskets. I love the idea of special shelves for mixing bowls and crocks. Really though, I imagine most homestead kitchens are a bit scattered (?)

Lynda, love the idea of a canning sink! I wish we had the room for that. I did put in a laundry tub on the porch though (photos and blog update on that soon). I will likely do all my canning done out there anyway. If you love your kitchen, that's what counts! I'm glad to hear someone really does entertain there. :)

Mar, those limitations are the real creative challenge, aren't they? A separate pantry helps tremendously, doesn't it! Do take photos and blog!

Tami, I love a galley kitchen. My favorite kitchen was galley style, and that's the main reason I want the peninsula, to create that kind of a work area. I agree most kitchens are overdone. Of course we have no one else in the house but us and do very little entertaining. I agree about that pantry! I absolutely love mine.

Theresa, you have a fantastic kitchen. As much as I'm not interested in stools, I am thinking that a spot for at least one would be nice for the times I have mountains of green beans to prepare for canning. I admit my lower back doesn't like standing too long! Interesting about the sink. I have a big single and long for a double, LOL, I just want a deep one. I love your idea about designated clutter zones. And I agree about aesthetics too. I'm aiming for a marriage between function and beauty!

Sharon said...

We are going to give our kitchen a makeover later this spring.

Unfortunately my kitchen is small. I'm going for open shelving again. I had open shelving before and I love it.

I have a double sink now but I find the second sink is always full of washed and drying dishes! I'd go back to a single if I had a choice. Also there is no counter space between the sink and the stove! I am forever standing with pot in hand wondering where to put it down.

I only have one small window (would love a bright kitchen) I like the look of no curtains or blinds. Our place is far away from any neighbours so I don't worry about privacy, but I do find it a little un-nerving at night with no blinds.

I have no appliance garage. I keep appliances I use little in one of the cupboards, and the ones I use all the time out on the counter. I don't think I would ever put them away anyway.

I have one rug by the sink. It's a small one that I can throw in the washer when needed.

I don't have a peninsula or an island (although I would like one) I had a small one at our last house with 2 stools (with backs) and it was very handy.We did use the stools quite a bit.

When we redid our kitchen in our old house, people told us to go "neutral" I was fed up with blah, so we did what we wanted. I chose everything based on what I like and how I work. Guess what? Our house sold in 6 days, in a terrible market for the price we asked. Everyone loved tghe kitchen! (we spend all of $500 to redo it!)

A couple of things I found really handy...a pullout spice drawer, under cabinet lighting and a microwave under the counter. We put our microwave on a shelf under our island counter, and it worked out very well. I would do that again if I were to get a microwave oven (at this point we have decided against one).

Wow, sorry to be so long winded. I hope you find some of it useful.

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

I have a good sized kitchen, but it looks like the one you described, loaded up with everything. If you have a really neat kitchen, chances are you dont really cook, much like those pictures in the magazines. The only thing I can recommend is that I do not have rugs, but gel filled mats that are wonderful. Since I spend a large bulk of my day in the kitchen and all my time during canning season, those mats are leg savers. They wipe clean too.

Nina said...

No window treatment here - I love the natural light. I've never worried about people looking in. We live in a rural area. The neighbours aren't that close that I'd have to worry and it looks out to the side where I get a glorious view of trees and corn fields.

Kitchen rugs - Ick! The previous owner left several small and a huge rug in the kitchen. I've tossed them all because it's way too hard to clean around and under them.

Peninsula/Island - we have a small one, no stools. I have a kitchen table so don't need to clutter up the remaining space with more seating area.

Work triangles - I don't think running out to snip some basil, grab a few tomatoes or dig and rinse potatoes are considered part of the work triangle :) It does however make it easier to lug a pot of water to the stove, drain spaghetti or canning jars etc.

Kitchen Entertainment Centres - I don't live a Cappuccino centre, guest chef lifestyle. It's not even occurred to me to consider these sorts of options in my own kitchen reno. I have friends and family who want to chat while I'm in the kitchen. They can chop veggies with me or pull up a chair and hang out. I use kitchen magazines etc, to see colours, layouts, storage tricks etc that might not come to me otherwise, not for trendy lifestyle features which I'd never use or enjoy.

Work Triangle - I don't think that my work triangle includes running to the garden to snip herbs, pick tomatoes or dig and rinse potatoes :) It does however make it easier to fill and empty canning and blanching pots, drain pasta and other general cooking jobs.

Leigh said...

Sharon, I don't mind the long comments, very helpful! We have a small kitchen too, so I am definitely using shelving. I have several Amish cabinets we plan to incorporate, so it will be a combination like Theresa's. Interesting about the sinks. My issue with my single sink is that there's no place to put the dish drying rack! It takes up precious counter space which frustrates me. Not having counter space near the sink/stove would be frustrating.

Seems like everything in the books and magazines is neutral. I reckon it's part of the sell-it mindset. I agree, it's blah! Good for you for swimming against the flow! Actually I think very few buyers/folks care for the neutral, one size fits all kitchen.

Jane, I hadn't thought about gel mats. The aching legs from standing all day is a problem. Thanks for the idea!

Nina, good point about the kitchen table. We will have a small eating area too, separate from the peninsula. I agree about the natural light and am currently contemplating half curtains in the "cafe" style. Not much chance of lookers-in actually, but it's always on my mind after dark!

Anonymous said...

I've already commented previously on the placement of your stove vis-a-vis counter space, and, while I stand by that comment (and personal experience), I understand the constraints your space has placed on your design. Work flow IS important, which is why I like my smallish kitchen which is open to the dining area and the rest of the house. The only absolute necessity in my kitchen is the dishwasher, which I know you have foresworn off of, but which I think is the one concession you should make should you ever re-sell. At least plumb for one if not actually installing it. I don't have an up-to-date kitchen, but if I did it would have pull out shelving for that narrow shelf next to the fridge, and a place to put recyclables such as cans/bottles.--Sue in MA

Leigh said...

Sue, the plumbing for the dishwasher will remain, so we can address that in the future if needed I suppose. I need the space though, more than I personally need a dishwasher.

Remember that the stove is a wood burner, which means proximity of cabinets is a fire hazard issue and therefore a matter of code. Of course with a wood cookstove, the pot or pan needing to be removed is simply placed to the back of the stove or on top of the warm water reservoir. Built in pot placing space if you will. :)

The Apple Pie Gal said...

We re-did our kitchen a few years ago and put in a peninsula with an overhang for chairs and wonder how we ever lived without it! For obvious reasons, the added counter space is priceless! And yes, we sit at them all the time too! It's nice for when you are working on something and a friend can sit and have coffee with you without interrupting etc. If they stay long enough :) then they get put to work from the other side. I like to read a good magazine at it too. The chairs never get in the way because they slide under. I wouldn't do without one ever again unless I absolutely had to!

We do have valances on our windows. No one is close enough to make us feel exposed.

Our kitchen is the largest room in the house and we always gather there. Lots of seating and open space allows for it fortunately. So yeah, we spend most our time there. I don't know about the whole triange thing but we make it work for us!

Hope this helps!

Jen said...

My comment is going to primarily refer to our previous kitchen (the one we remodeled just before deciding to move).

We put dark brown blinds in the OK (old kitchen) but it our CK (current kitchen) I don't think we'll be putting window coverings up. The only ones peeping in that window are the goats.

Appliance garages I think are dunzo as far as trends go, they are just cluttery in my opinoin. I think the better option is for pull out storage in your cabinets.

I think rugs look nice in kitchen that are never used. In mine they'd be trashed in minutes. I'm also a fan of vinyl flooring so that's soft enough for me.

We had a peninsula with seating which I loved because the kids could sit there out of the way while still being there in the kitchen with me.

Work triangles are something that I think are also a thing of the past. It's all about "stations" now and what easiest for you and how you cook.

I like a big functional kitchen because I like to cook. Beyond the kids, I don't really want to entertain while I"m cooking.

I never consider the resale factor when deciding my renos. I buy a house because I plan to stay in it forever. I don't buy it with intentions to sell.

The Sumerlin Dorper Farm said...

We are building our house right now, so we are living in camper trailers unit it is done.(due to a very fast sale on the previous home we were living in) So my kitchen is a NIGHTMARE! Thankfully I have other places I can cook, or else I would be going insane. I all the houses I have lived in (for being 23 I have moved many times) none of the houses had window treatments. But, the house I grew up in was out in the middle of no where, they 2nd house faced a big field in the back, the 3rd house faced a red barn, and this house that we are building now also over looks a big open field. So I have had no reason to want privacy.

A kitchen Island is awesome to have, we had one in the last house, and we are going to put one in this house. It makes it easy to either serve a dish, throw it on the island and have them come pick it up, there or while someone is cooking others can sit at the island and chat with you. I love them!

Appliance garage: We had one for our toaster. As it turned out the door always stayed open, and it always looked like a dark, crumb filled hole in the wall to me. I cleaned it every day and it still drove me nuts. We wont have one in this house we are building now.

Work triangle: I am with you on that one, I am so scattered when I cook it isn’t even funny :)

weavinfool said...

I have a U shape kitchen with a small, moveable chopping block island that we bought at CostPlus 40 years ago in the middle of the U. The chopping block is maybe 20" x 32"? It is small enough that we can't store crap on it but large enough for kneading vread, rolling out pie crusts, cookies, etc. It is also large enough for several children to dye easter eggs at the same time. It is the Most used part of our kitchen.
I have cabinet doors because all the fine dirt that blows in would make having open shelving a nightmare to keep clean. I have the fridge, thena small counter with utensils in jugs and a toaster, then the stove, then it turns the corner with countertop. The sink is a large single sink at the center of the bottom of the U with counter on both sides. There is a deep, wide garden window there too. The rest of the U is all counter top. There is an overhang on the other side of this counter for stools, but we have never bought them. It just makes a nice deep counter. I have bowls of onions, potatoes, fruit, etc. lounging on the back of this deep counter. My mixer and knife block are in the corner between stove and sink - shoved back so not in the way of using the counter. We built this house in 1988 and I am not one for trying to impress others with design and style. It is totally functional. There are cabinets under and above all the counters. My countertops are 'butcher block' formica. The flooring is vinyl that is patterned to look like a wood floor. People comment on how great our wood floor looks. I do have a separate pantry. It is on either side of a passageway between the kitchen and dining room. It is probably 8 feet long with cupboards on both sides. One side also has a counter and it houses a microwave and lots of stuff I don't know what to do with.It also has the junk drawers.
The whole affair is very functional. I have no window coverings in the entire house except for the SW facing bedroom windows. We close them in the summer to help keep out the sun. We can't be seen by the neighbors - they are far away.

Tried throw rugs in the kitchen but they just got in the way. The idea of a gel mat is intriguing.

DebbieB said...

"little sinks designed solely for washing celery" - that made me laugh loud and long!

My kitchen is terrible! It's narrow and long, and it's more a hallway than a room, because access to the living space from the bedrooms and bathrooms is channeled through it. We're always having to stand aside to let someone pass, or move out of the way so someone can get a drink out of the fridge.

I'm looking forward to hearing some good ideas, as we will be moving in a few years and will want to make the best of our new space. Our old space is hopeless.

Joseph and Emma said...

We'll be re-doing the kitchen in our soon to be home, so a lot of your questions are already rattling around in my head. While it probably won't happen until mid-2012, I'm still thinking about what I'd like.

My must haves:

* Gas stove with large burners. 5+ burners if possible that can hold several large pots and my water and pressure canners. I'm paranoid my stock pot is going to fall through the top of the range some days ...

* A large, deep, farmhouse sink in stainless steel. Undermount is even better if we can find the right one. I'd love a second sink, but unless we extend into the breakfast area I don't think there's really room for a second.

* I'd love more ideas for how to let your dishes drain. Our dishwasher in this rental is pitiful, so we probably won't worry about replacing one in the new house since we're used to hand-washing anyway. But I'd like to recover my counter space.

* The counters will also have to go, as they're porous, textured, and green with gold flecks. Modern I tell ya! =) We're thinking quartz if we can justify the cost, but that may be a long shot. While quartz would resell well in the Big City, not so much in the country. Hrmm.

* On the dreaming side, I'd really love double ovens for when we have family over for the holidays. They wouldn't be used very often, but having the extra space would be awesome.

Keep dreaming, pick out what's most important to you, and make it happen! Hooray for prioritization. Good luck!

City Roots, Country Life

Anonymous said...

One tiny little rug - well, more of a mat - which the cats love to sit on and/or wrestle with. It gets completely battered, we put it in the washing machine, and when it's clean and dry they batter it all over again. When it is left in peace for a minute, the mat is just in front of our big storecupboard. I don't find it gets in the way at all (I'm more likely to trip on a cat to be honest) but I wouldn't want rugs everywhere.

Leigh said...

Diana, thanks! I'd love to have a bigger kitchen. The main part I'm working with measures about 11.5 by 11.5 feet, so room for folks is really limited. Your kitchen sounds like a wonderful place to visit.

Limette, good point about stations instead of triangles. The emphasis on triangles struck me as odd because any three points make a triangle, so no matter where the stove, fridge and sink are, there's a triangle. I think if I still had small children, I'd rethink the peninsula seating. It would make a lot of sense then.

Christine, what fun to build a kitchen from scratch! I'm finding the 3 existing doors and 2 windows to be a real challenge. Plus my kitchen is smallish and L-shaped. More important than a work triangle is counterspace!

Weavinfool, your kitchen sounds super efficient. I'd love to see photos! A kitchen really is a workshop and needs to be treated as such, which it sounds like you have done. Lots of counters is key!

Debbie, I agree, your kitchen sounds terrible. I can't imagine anyone designing a house with a kitchen like that! I'm getting some good practical ideas and feedback in these comments. No celery sinks for me! LOL

Emma, you've got a good starting list, for sure. Handwashing dishes and letting them drain is a challenge. My answer is a double sink with the dish drainer residing in one side. I have a large single right now but there isn't enough room for the drainer, so it has to take up counter space! It will be another double sink for me, but a deep one for sure. For reader feedback on granite counters, check out some of the comments in my Kitchen Remodel Starting to Plan post.

Cally, that's not a kitchen rug, that's a kitty rug, LOL. Sounds like you couldn't get rid of it if you wanted to. Else you'd have a rebellion on your hands. :)

jessica said...

Island--we have an island. One side has cupboards for the kids to put their backpacks and school things.
The other side has pull-out drawers for kitchen appliances. It works well, except for the top. The island top collects stuff! Canning jars to go downstairs, school papers to get filed, half-finished art projects... We periodically have to force ourselves to cull away the clutter. Our table is currently pushed against one edge of the island. This works great for the 5 of us and (when the island is clean) gives us extra space for pots and things during dinner.

Wishing you the best as you make your plans!

Lynda said...

Leigh: I added a search widget to my blog, but can't get it to work. So I checked the my blog and I have only one picture of 1/2 the kitchen...and lots of me working on the island, or cooktop, or sinks and one of the new fridge. No nice big groovy I'm going to do a before and after blog post as soon as I can find the before pictures.

Lynda said...

Darn! I forgot to give you the date of the blog post with the 1/2 shot of the kitchen: Sept. 11, 2010.

Anonymous said...

We remodeled a few years ago. The one thing we did that made a big difference was opening up a wall between our living room and kitchen. After adding overhead lights and a counter top it made all the difference in the world :-)

Solid Rock or Sinking Sand said...

I really enjoyed reading the posts on your blog. I would like to invite you to come on over to my blog and check it out. God bless, Lloyd

Sharon said...

I had definite ideas of what I wanted when we built this house. I wanted the kitchen to be an entertainment center and I didn't ever again want to be cut off from the rest of the house when I was cooking, so now our kitchen is at the end of our great room.

Our parties tell me that it's working. I don't know if there's a triangle or not, but it's a fun place to cook in and more fun to have friends in. It has plenty of natural light by day, but parties are often later.

I read Cheaper by the Dozen when I was in college and after that efficiency became a quest with me. I'm happy with this kitchen - it's already piled up good memories.

Anonymous said...

we remodeled our kitchen in 2008. at 13' square it is the smallest of the 4 kitchens i have done. yet it is my favorite. it is L shaped with a butcher block island (no stools)and open to the dining area. i blew my budget on a wolf range with hood and opted for open storage in place of upper cabinets. love, love, love this. natural stone counters and a big single bowl stainless sink, and stainless fridge completes the room. i was trying to get back to basics with this remodel and am very happy with my choices. do what you know will work for you, thats what i did and am so happy with the results.

Country Jane said...

Leigh! You caused me to write a whole blog post on your subject today in my sick bed. I love kitchen talk and love watching re-models, etc. I hope what I said helps a tad and just have fun!!!

Leigh said...

Jessica, thanks! Your island sounds perfect for a family of 5! I like the idea of pull-out drawers for small appliances. I just made a list of mine and need to figure out what to do with them.

I've been wondering about clutter too. It follows me everywhere!

Lynda, thanks! I couldn't get your search widget to work either (?) I love the photos of your kitchen though. Some of your details are great. I'll look forward to that before and after post!

Ron, a lot of folks have looked at our floor plan and suggested opening up at least part of the wall between our kitchen and dining room. I've resisted this mainly because I like distinct rooms, but my husband pointed out too, that the wall is the only solid wall between these two rooms. If it goes I have no wall space and no place to put our huge china hutch! (Not to mention the DR walls are cement board, a real boggabear to cut.)

Lloyd, thank you! I'm on my way over to return the visit.

Sharon, definite ideas is the key to success I think. We have practically no family and a very small social circle, so it wouldn't occur to me to think of the kitchen that way. I'm heartened though, that you knew what you wanted, went for it, and are completely happy with the results. I want to be like you when I grow up!

Anonymous, you need a blog and photos! I love that you love your kitchen. Getting back to basics is key, and that phrase rings true to my heart too.

Jane, what a fantastic post! I'm so so sorry you've been sick, but was delighted that you took time to blog about it. Ya'll go visit Jane's blog and take a look.

Woolly Bits said...

I like seeing kitchens in magazines... only, reality is that we have a relatively small cottage kitchen with uneven walls, 3 doors, one stove (heating only) and two windows. nothing commercially made would fit. and we have to do everything on the one table, food preparation, eating, sewing etc...:)) no place for a dishwasher or other larger units. no triangle, no island, no pantry, no rugs (tiles), no special chef appliances etc. and guess what - I can still cook everything (though I don't normally entertain larger crowds:)), I can still work on the table - it all just takes getting used to and being organized. it's not my dream kitchen, but then it's not an outdoor fire and sitting on the floor either. we are only three people and I think we are ok with what we have - funnily enough visitors usually end up sitting in the kitchen, despite the lack of space....
oh yes - windows. ours are cottage windows = very small. if I did put up anything I'd end up with even less light. we have a lot of plants/shrubs in the front garden and very little traffic on our gravel road in front - so I am not really bothered about peepers...

NancyDe said...

I am late to the party (had a workshop all day for the last two days with my students), but I don't have curtains, because we are in the boonies and everywhere in the house faces trees, plus it is gloomy enough on the kitchen level in the rain forest with a wrap around deck on the 90% of the year when we have rain. I do have a triangle, but I certainly make more of a star when I cook - particularly as we have two refrigerators and one is out in the laundry room. I have one rug near the sin, but it is more of a foam cushion so the person who is doing dishes has some padding from the cold floor. No appliance garages, but I do tend to put a lot of my appliances away, except the stand mixer and the toaster. I do have a bar at the peninsula, because my husband grew up with one and it is handy for feeding small kids breakfast while you stand at the cook top. Now, only my 11 year old sits there to talk to me when I am baking, or to have her own food prep area when she is helping. I have a very messy corner where all the spices that don't fit in the cupboard and other odds and ends get shoved. My kitchen and dining room are one room, so when people are over, there is an element of entertainment and food prep going on at the same time.

Toni aka irishlas said...

Hi Leigh,
I've put some pics of my kitchen up if you'd like to take a peek. You'll have to scroll down past the couple of pics of the backyard first.

Leigh said...

"It all just takes getting used to and being organized". Bettina, I think that's key to any kitchen. It seems to me that I always go back to what I'm used to. Organization is my downfall however!

Your kitchen does sound similar to mine with the 3 doors and two windows. Those are really a challenge. Still, it sounds like you've made it work for you.

Nancy, I'm impressed that you put your appliances away! LOL. I will need to be doing that as well, I just hope to not have to drag them out from the back of a cabinet anymore. :) I have two refrigerators too and you're right, that does change the concept of the triangle.

Toni thanks! I love to have photos to look at. Very helpful. I have to say that your improvements made a huge difference.

bspinner said...

To many people out there watching to many tv shows about homes. I don't have a thing on my windows only because they face Amish feilds and they do bring some hay in after dark once in a while I'm well aware of it.

Small appliances. I only keep my coffee maker, Ktchen Aid and microwave on the counter.

Two small rugs only because I'm such a slob.

Our first house had a small pennsula and it ws fine but I don't remember anyone using it that much.

We're on our third house and never had a work triangle and so far I don't I've missed that one a bit. I can was cut up veggies and walk to the stove right in a line.

I don't want anyone watching me cook. Just leave me alone so I can get everything done so we can sit down and eat.

You can never be done updating a kitchen. Who knows what will be in style when you go to sell?

Good luck!

Phoebe said...

I am in the middle of designing a kitchen myself and since it is in an 850 sq. ft. house, every inch must count!
I have had 7 kitchens in my life and I am taking what works from each.
I have roll up blinds on windows that get a lot of sun, I pull them down in the morning on days it is going to be hot- it makes a real difference on the indoor temp-"light is heat"
The rest of the time I have clean curtainless windows- no neighbors for miles...
I have a good friend who has an appliance garage. She doesn't keep appliences in it- she keeps unsightely and hard to organize things in it and rarely used items.I think a pantry shelf works better
I love kitchen rugs to keep my feet warm in winter and capture tumbleweeds of pet hair (you don't want airborn pethair in a kitchen) but I only buy machine washable and I have several so I can change them often.
Peninsulas are out of the question for my new kitchen but I would have one big enough for two stools (that fit under it) to seat kids, while cooking and to give a guest a place to sit and chat while I cook (and stay out of the way, or help chop).
As far as triangles that's a personal choice but I will say it is very nice to cook fast and well in a well balanced kitchen. Sink and stove near each other (heavy pots of water)but with heat proof counter space between them- the dishwasher directly next to the sink. I also prefer the single large sink over the double sink- it is so much more versatile with a dishpan.
In my world entertaining in the kitchen is never a choice- no matter what I do, everyone just ends up in there anyway!
As far as resale... I make the kitchen my own with paint colors and nick-knacks. I once had to deal with a kitchen made for a very short person and it was horrible. I had to modify everything since raising the counters made it so I had to raise the uppers but they already went to the ceiling. I would just keep cabinets and appliances standard if you think there is any chance in the world you might have to sell. (when a fast sale is needed you will not have the money or time to fix the kitchen).
Making all the choices is hard but isn't it fun to start from scratch?

Leigh said...

Barb, you sound just like me. I feel so much more efficient doing the cooking myself. Of course, we don't have folks over to eat very often.

I think you're right about never finishing with kitchen updates. I'm encouraged by those who have done what they've wanted to please themselves and not worried about a future sale. We're not really planning to sell this place anyway and will baring unforeseen circumstances, will likely be here for a very long time.

Phoebe, gosh, 850 square feet is a challenge to work with. Taking the best of my past kitchens is what I'm trying to do too. My all time favorite was a galley kitchen. We didn't buy this place for resale, so I really don't think about that much. We're doing too many long term permanent things that I won't want to leave. Of course who knows what the future will bring. I love it that though the experts say think of resale value, real folks are doing what they want anyway. I think the inevitability of reselling a home is an assumption to the modern mindset. We homesteading agrarian types tend not to think that way, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Moved into a house with kitchen already done - yeah! Its not what I would have put in but it works. Its a u shape with sink in middle lots and lots of bench space (still run out when I cook though). Oven and fridge next to each other. My window has no curtains - sorry neighbours - I don't think anyone can see in as we are on a step and look over another roof. I don't like the black bench tops - so hard to keep clean - every wipe can be seen. Oven is broken and we have been almost 5 months without one - trying to get fixed but having issues getting someone in. Fridge spot was designed around previous owners fridges - we had to buy one to fit - limited choices. As the kitchen is big people tend to come and stand in it while you finish using every pot and pan to finish a meal - we have too many draws and no cupboards. I would like one cupboard for the glasses. The breakfast bar sort of thing was just made into extra storage for us - very handy. Those metal things that help you get stuff in a corner cupboard are great. Good luck

Benita said...

When Scott and I built our house about 17 years ago, one of the things I insisted on was two outlets on the island (actually on the back side) - best decision I ever made! My island is the center of my chopping, mixing, cooling and cooking, and the outlets gets used for the blender, mixer, crockpot, grinder, etc.

You can't have too many outlets in a kitchen. Also lighting is important. That is one thing I do not like about my kitchen, and something I plan to rectify in the near future. Even with the west-facing window (and yes, it has a blind - not for privacy but because of the afternoon sun), there isn't enough light in there. Especially on the counters under the upper cabinets. I want tube lighting under the upper cabinets so I can see when I'm working there.

Also, I have a vent above the stove with the pipe running up the wall behind the cabinet over the stove. In the winter time, the vegetable oils up there get cold enough to freeze. If I could, I'd redo that area and make sure it was better insulated. I love having that handy cabinet, but it could have been better designed.

As for a working triangle, mine is more like a trapezoid - sink, island, fridge and stove. The pantry is right next to the fridge, so I count them as the same corner, which is really handy.

I will be curious how you do your cooking pots and pans storage. Mine are under the island, which is about the least convenient place they could be. Hmmm... I may have to do some thinking about that.

Leigh said...

ElsieMay, I reckon that's the down side of customizing every detail of a kitchen. Thanks for the idea about the corner cupboards. These are always a problem! I like the idea of drawers, but agree for the need for cupboards. Or shelves! Thanks.

Benita, that's what I'm working on currently, i.e. where to store pots and pans, also small appliances, mixing bowls, etc. I've lived mostly with standard 24" depth cabinets, which I find terrible for storing things like that. Two ideas include pot rack (with light) over the stove, Also a set of shelves on the end of the peninsula (which will be nearest the stove). Another possibility is large deep drawers or pull out shelves. I'm still in the rough sketch stage, so nothing is settled on yet.

I hear you about lighting! The older my eyes get, the more I need it. I've already planned for under cabinet lighting for my countertop right of the sink. Probably pendant lights over peninsula, sink, and breakfast table. The light in pot rack for the stove.

Cooking trapezoid sounds more realistic than triangle!

Grace said...

I can't find any decent kitchen curtains at all. Used to be you could go into Kmart or Walmart and choose from any number but apparently everyone likes naked windows these days. I'm still looking. As for rugs, they are a must for me. I spend a lot of time on my feet in the kitchen and a rug in front of the stove and one in front of the sink really help ease up the old arthritis (a problem for me since age 18. Keeping them clean is tough. Only one of mine is washable. The stove rug is a tick rubberized rectangular mat. I sweep and spot clean it but I have to replace them fairly regularly.

Bootzey said...

My kitchen is brown... very brown.... and I love it! When we 1st bought the house, it was electric green. Well, that had to go. And they had put shelf liner on the walls like wallpaper. Took forever to get it down.

My 1st husband put up a striped green, brown and rust wallpaper. I made me dizzy. But I chose the colors for every other room in the house. He should have been able to choose one room. But thankfully, half of it fell down. And the pattern was discontinued. I'm still very excited. I painted the rest of the kitchen a color from the remaining wallpaper and sponged it like the wallpaper. It looks beautiful and cozy. And my kitchen is very long.

I liked the cabinets so I left them. I did add door pulls and slowly I have been swapping the appliances out for black ones. I put down a slate looking floor and I plan on new marble looking counter tops.

Now If I had a whole lot of extra money (and what is extra money anyway?) I would knock a wall down and put in a bay window. I only have 1 window in the kitchen, but you barely notice since there are 4 on the den and 2 in the dining room. Both border the kitchen. And the front door with it's side windows can be seen from the stove.... That is the one part of my kitchen I don't care for.


Bootzey said...

I forgot....

I have curtains to the window and on the back door. No rugs and all the small appliances are on a caddy that I keep covered with a quilt cover I made especially for said job. I insist on clear uncluttered counters. Unfortunately or fortunately (depends on how you look at it), I live with a bear and the bear doesn't get the meaning of uncluttered....

Sharon said...

Oh boy, you asked for a lot. I don't have a kitchen window which was huge with my mother. I had one in my old house and the kitchen was closed off from everyone so all I had was that view. I chose kitchen open into great room in this house. I love it. We entertain and the kitchen is central to every party. We have a peninsula which seats 4 and is always used - it's also where the dishwasher is under.

Trying to remember - no appliance garage. I shun appliances so toaster and coffee maker are it. You know, bottom line - I wanted to never ever be excluded from what the family was doing - ever again. I wish I could tell you what makes the chemistry of this kitchen but I don't know. When we have a party, it's where everyone goes, overflowing to the great room. It's just got a lot of heart. I don't know if it has a triangle or not but it's a fun place to cook. So how much help was that???

Leigh said...

Grace, I've noticed the same thing about the nonavailability of kitchen curtains. I'm not too sure what to think about this, nor what to do about it myself. I like a rug too, I just may have to resign myself to having several and washing them frequently! Thanks for your input.

Peace, I can't imagine that anyone would want an electric green kitchen, LOL. I'd change that too. Funny about those striped wall papers, they seem to make a lot of folks dizzy. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned keeping counters uncluttered. I have the hardest time with that. I really like your idea of making covers for small appliances that are left out. I'll have to borrow that one.

Sharon, you confirm that those happiest with their kitchens, design or remodel them to suit their personal lifestyles. My questions and everyone who responded have encouraged me to focus on that and forget the trends!

trashmaster46 said...

Appliance garages - waste of space.
Kitchen windows - I've never lived in a place where the kitchen windows were low enough anyone could see anything exciting. Though I have had nice blinds in one of my kitchens.
Rugs - totally depends on the kitchen and the rug. Lino in a small kitchen? No rug. Stone floor in a bigger kitchen? The rug was much more relevant, and washable too.
Kitchen as entertainment: If you are entertained by watching me cook, or you want to keep me entertained while I cook, I"m all for it. I will not have a TV in my kitchen, and I resent my husband's espresso machine taking up valuable space on the counter where the stand mixer should be.
As for "resale value" - let them remodel the kitchen after they buy the house. There's no way to predict what will be hot, trendy and "necessary" by the time you actually get around to selling your house.

Caroline M said...

I have a mat in front of the sink because the wood is hard on my bare feet. It goes in the washer and out on the line so no yuk. No curtains in the kitchen or the bathrooms, never felt the need. Appliance garages are a waste of good countertop, I open a cupboard and in they go. I used to keep the mixer out but the kitchen looks less cluttered without it.

Leigh said...

Wendy, that's pretty no nonsense. LOL. Even with all the comments, I have to admit that I'm still debating the curtains. I'm hoping we can put in some energy efficient windows, so I won't feel the need for curtains as insulation. Still, I just like having a little something...

Caroline, seems like most folks are in agreement about those appliance garages. I wonder who came up with them? A small rug makes sense. We're planning a wood plank floor at present, which won't be as bad as ceramic tile. Still...

Valerie said...

The work area in my kitchen is U shaped with an island cooktop in the middle of the U. The sink is at the base of the U w/ dishwasher to the left of the sink. The fridge is on the right hand side of the U and double wall oven is on the left hand side of the U.

I like having the fridge, sink, and stove top within 4-5 ft. of one another with counter top work surface in there to cut down on the number of steps during meal prep. There's a 90 degree angle countertop between the fridge and sink. So produce gets unloaded from the fridge to the countertop for final washing and chopping by the sink.

I also am one of those people who assembles and arranges all of the ingredients before I start to cook in order to cut down on running around the kitchen during the actual cooking process.

I like the dishes, glassware, and silverware to be stored somewhere near the dishwasher, so the dishwasher can be unloaded easily. They are outside of that work triangle described above, so someone can be setting table or clearing the table without getting in the way of the person working on food prep, or putting the food away.

So I guess what I'm saying is yes, I do think that work triangles make sense, depending on how you organize when cooking. But I also look at my kitchen in "zones" for different kinds of kitchen work. That came about because dh and I often cook together and one person can be in the washing/chopping area while the other is in the stirring/cooking and mixing area. However, it took awhile to train him not to stand smack in the middle of the double basin sink esp. when I need to drain hot pasta or potatoes!!

I don't see much use for appliance garages, just another place for crumbs and things to collect. I only keep out the appliances that are used regularly: coffee maker, toaster oven. and microwave. Food prep appliances(food processor, mixer, immersion blender) are in a lower cupboard with a pull out shelf (almost like a shallow drawer) that I can pull out and sit the appliance on the counter top to use when needed. That's the base cabinet beside he dishwasher and the counter top over the dishwasher. Other cooking appliances (electric skillet, foreman grill, waffle iron, bread maker) are in a cupboard to the left of the oven outside the work zone.

There's only a valance on the window over my kitchen sink, the patio door and window by the table have vertical blinds with a valance that match the kitchen sink window.

I think galley kitchens are great as long as they are not the main hallway between other parts of the house. I don't like foot traffic through my work zone.

Entertaining in the's not the place I prefer to entertain. However, every time we have an event people tend to congregate in the kitchen no matter what you do. But the U shape of the work area keeps them over at the open end of the U, by the table and out of my work zone.

sheesh...that was long. should've just sent a picture!

Valerie said...

PS...have you looked at the pleated shades that can be lowered from the top down? They are great for letting light in at the top, but keeping "looky lou's" from peeping in.

Oh...and I don't do kitchen rugs because of them bunching up and tripping, a hazard when carrying a pan with hot food. I treated my share of women with broken hips from area rugs.

Donna said...

Ok my current kitchen sucks! But I have been around enough kitchens in my 42 years to know what I would like. The kitchen triangle thing made me laugh, a concept that the government came up with in the 50's when the government was predominately men who never set foot in the kitchen except to be served breakfast. Kitchens in my opinion should have plenty of shelf space and the cabinets should have slide outs to get to the stuff in back. I personally wouldn't have doors on my upper cabinet because then I like the look and notice these doors get grinned out a lot. Plus I think the jars of food stuffs, containers and dishes are beautiful in their functions. I wouldn't have a peninsula with seating, we have one now and don't use it. I would have a large butcher block top island though with shelves underneath. Whether or not to put window coverings up would depend on where I live or if I had one of those greenhouse style windows. If I had the greenhouse window then absolutely would not have a covering. I have a couple of throw rugs that are just tossed in the washer and hung up to dry as appropriate. Every house that I've ever been in with an appliance garage didn't have a single appliance in them, they were storage for phone and recipe books or overflow from the junk drawer. Current kitchen is great room concept. I liked it at first but I wouldn't build a house like that. The kitchen is a workroom and quite frankly if you are going to pick up on a project in the morning who needs to worry about someone else seeing the mess. Plus you snack more when the kitchen is such a integral part of the living space. Just my thought. ;)

Leigh said...

Valerie, I'd love to see pictures, LOL. Your kitchen sounds beautifully and logically organized, which is absolutely what I'm aiming for. I like the idea of pull out shelves for less frequently used appliances.

My favorite kitchen was a galley style. Loved that kitchen, but like you say, it wasn't a hallway to another part of the house. My least favorite had the cooktop on the island, but it was installed "upside down" so that to access controls, one had to go around the back of the island.

I've just recently seen those top down Roman shades. We actually have no one to peek in the house, but it's just the thought of it that makes me uncomfortable.

Donna, actually, you sound a lot like me. My least favorite kitchen was in an open concept house we lived in; living, dining, and kitchen were all one big room. A peninsula with overhead cabinets was the only thing that defined the kitchen as a separate space. I hated that kitchen! I think it's because I'm a very messy cook (just ask my husband) so that anywhere in the living or dining areas, my mess was highly visible. Also, I found I couldn't concentrate on the cooking task at hand and carry on a conversation at the same time. Different strokes for different folks! Thanks for your input.

Nicole said...

I LOVE my kitchen! I designed our whole house, but I spend much of my time in the kitchen. I actually have a tour of my kitchen on my blog:

Leigh said...

Nicole, thank you! I love the description, but I love photos. I pick up a lot of little details and ideas that way. You do have a lovely kitchen.

Jane Metzger said...

I found this blog today and wanted to comment on penisulas. We remodeled our kitchen three years ago and it features a long penisula with cupboards and pot and pan drawers underneath. There's an overhang at the end with room enough for one stool. It's a good breakfast spot for my husband who likes to eat soon after awakening.
I love my kitchen and love having the peninsula. I can send you pictures if you wish.
I don't have curtains in the kitchen by choice and enjoy the light from two skylights as well.
We incorporated a pantry into room's design, modifying what had originally been there.

Leigh said...

Hello Metzger Farm! Welcome! All comments welcome as well. I love the idea of enough room for one stool. That's kitchen personalization at its best. My DH doesn't like stools, but sometimes I sure wish I could sit down when I have a lot of cutting to do for canning. I'd love to see photos of your kitchen.

Jennifer said...

Honestly, I like a kitchen that is open to the living room. That way when you have people over they are not crowding into the kitchen to converse with you as you are preparing something.

My work space... I usually work within one section of my counter - to the left of the stove. It is the middle ground for everything else in the kitchen. To limit running around, I gather everything I need before I start. Because we do not own our home (we rent) we cannot alter anything other than paint.

Leigh said...

Jennifer, you sound like a very organized cook! I have to say that I admire folks who can cook and visit at the same time. I get so easily distracted that I end up messing up the recipe. Even my husband has learned (the hard way, LOL) to not interrupt when I'm concentrating!